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Air Force Marks 100 years of Air Refueling with Flyovers

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot,
  • 185th Air Refueling Wing, Iowa Air National Guard

SIOUX CITY, Iowa - On June 27, the U.S. Air Force Air Mobility Command plans nationwide flyovers involving over 150 aircraft to commemorate 100 years of air refueling.
Air refueling units will perform flyovers at major landmarks, population centers and state capitals in all 50 states.

According to the National Museum of the Air Force, the first successful air refueling occurred June 27, 1923, just 20 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight, when a U.S. Army Air Service DH-4B biplane received gasoline through a hose from another DH-4B flying below. The experiment aimed to extend the length of time the receiving aircraft could stay aloft.

The mission of today’s air refueling aircraft remains the same as it was 100 years ago. However, extending flight has been expanded to a global scale.

In one day, U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus, KC-10 Extender and KC-135 Statotanker aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard plan to commemorate the 100th anniversary of air refueling by performing flyovers at venues in every state.

Airmen from the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing plan flyovers in Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota.
A KC-135 Stratotanker from the Iowa Air National Guard’s 185th Air Refueling Wing, along with F-16 aircraft from South Dakota’s 114th Fighter Wing, will perform flyovers in the Missouri River valley region.
In Iowa, look for flyovers in Sioux City, West Lake Okoboji and Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.
In South Dakota, a flyover is planned at the state capital in Pierre, the Badlands, Mount Rushmore and Sioux Falls.
In North Dakota, Air National Guard aircraft will fly over Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the state capitol in Bismarck.

In Alaska, the 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, is scheduled to conduct KC-135 Stratotanker flyovers over Central Village, Fort Yukon, Deadhorse, Utqiagvik (Barrow), Point Hope, Kotzebue, Noorvik, Selawik, Huslia, Delta Junction, Tok, Gulkana Valdez, Palmer, Wasilla, Kenai, Holy Cross, Anvik, Kaltag, Nulato, Koyukuk, Galena, Ruby, Tanana, and Nenana.

“It is an honor to serve and represent the legacy of those who served before us on an important mission of refueling,” said Capt. Steven Billa, 168th Wing KC-135 pilot. “It is an amazing heritage to be serving on aircraft that have been involved in many conflicts defending our way of life.”

Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey contributed to this story.